Take Action on 'Climate Smart Communities':

New York State's Climate Smart Communities (CSC) program supports municipalities as they identify, plan and carry out projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, and prepare for the challenges climate change will bring. This program provides resources that enable localities to act on climate, without mandating which programs or policies they should adopt. 

To take advantage of these resources, communities must first take the pledge to become a CSC.  Four communities in our area have done so: the City of Rochester, Town of Brighton, Town of Irondequoit, and Village of Victor.  If you do not live in one of these areas, please contact your local leaders to urge them to (literally) get with the program.  

Below is contact information for elected officials from local municipalities that have not yet pledged to become Climate Smart Communities.  Call or email the one that represents you and say something like, "As your constituent, I strongly urge you and your fellow representatives to vote to take the Climate Smart Community pledge and, following this, to take advantage of the resources this program provides.  New York State has set goals to mitigate climate change and increase resiliency to its inevitable effects.  Let's make sure we are part of the solution, and that we and our neighbors are prepared for the challenges that climate change will bring.  Thank you."  If you or they need more information, it can be found on the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation website.

If you live in a municipality that has already taken the pledge (Rochester, Brighton, Irondequoit, or Victor), please call or email your elected officials to thank them and encourage them to follow through on their commitment by acting to reduce your community's dependence of fossil fuels and prepare for the impacts of climate change.  Contact information for these representatives follows:

If your town is not included in either of the previous lists, visit the DEC's website to check if your elected officials have taken the CSC pledge. 

If you're not sure who your local representatives are, google the name of your municipality (e.g., Town of _____, City of ______, Village of ______) to find contact information.  Then call or email to either ask that they take the pledge or thank them for already doing so, as described above.    

Learn more:

2014 Earth Day Forum

 "Climate Smart Communities:  Let’s Get With the Program"

After the 2014 Forum: Climate Smart Communities: Let’s Get With the Program 

By Frank J. Regan

This year’s forum brought in over 300 folks to hear about the state’s Climate Smart Community (CSC) program. We also tried to get as many communities as possible west of Syracuse to join this volunteer program to help more New Yorkers adapt to and mitigate Climate Change. Sierra Club members succeeded in getting several communities to sign up.

Mark Lowery, manager of the program, spoke succinctly and forcefully about the findings of the Climate Change consequences in our region. Jeremy Moule, the sole reporter from Rochester who attended the event, summed up Mark’s talk here: “Local governments should, at a minimum, develop plans to deal with current and anticipated hazards caused by climate trends, such as flooding and strong storms, said Mark Lowery.” (“Making the case for local communities to act on climate change”, April 18, 2014, Rochester City Newspaper)

Our frequent attempts to get all the local media engaged on what the state is doing about Climate Change and helping communities (via educational webinars, developing climate action plans, boosting energy efficiency, increasing active transportation and much more) was met will little success.

I mention this lack of media attention because it was one of the main goals of the forum: to move this worldwide crisis to mainstream local media. If the local media is not even provoked to attend to this issue when the state speaks locally on a matter of this magnitude, it does not bode well for engaging the general public either. Large as the Sierra Club is, we cannot address Climate Change without the full cooperation of a substantial percent of the public. This issue is like no other in history, but messaging Climate Change to a reluctant public is and has been a major hurdle for environmental groups. 

In August of 2009, Rochester took the CSC pledge and has done much over the years with this program and other efforts to address Climate Change. Surf over to the city’s Office of Energy & Sustainability and download the “Energy Management and Climate Action Status Report”  here. It’s a great start, but much more needs to be done by Rochester and other communities.

Mark did not cover all the consequences of Climate Change in our region, nor was he able to cover all aspects of the CSC program. 

In the Q&A phase of the program, Mark was asked whether the CSC program has a good resource that lists all the ways local governments can promote and support a local food supply though good zoning, setting the example through local procurement for government agencies and schools, etc. Mark admitted that the program does not have expertise in urban agriculture, but that the CSC’s site has webinars that touch on some of these issues. 

The state’s CSC program is a start. It is understaffed and most folks in New York State don’t even know about its existence. We hope our efforts at the forum boosted public knowledge of this program, and that more public concern about the state’s efforts will ramp up its ability to do more to address this worldwide crisis. The public must demonstrate that it demands that the state adequately address Climate Change, for your government is one of the very few groups that can be held accountable. 

If your community has not signed the CSC pledge, please contact your community leader and get them to do so. Also contact Mark Lowery to continue the dialogue that we started at the forum at: Mark Lowery, Climate Policy Analyst, Office of Climate Change, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233, 518-402-8027, mdlowery@gw.dec.state.ny.us  

We all need to get engaged in the Climate Change discussion

From Rochester westward, few communities have made the Climate Change Communities Pledge. The City of Rochester, Irondequoit, and Victor are the only communities in our region out of 122 communities in New York State that have signed on to the Climate Smart Communities pledge.

We hope to invite many community leader to this event who have not signed the pledge and urge them to consider signing on.

This map should be all yellow in order to have a Climate Change adaptation and mitigation program that will actually affect something so all encompassing as Climate Change. 



Check out some of the material from the forum:

Our Speaker:

Mark Lowery Climate Policy Analyst Office of Climate Change New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Mark Lowery is a climate policy analyst in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Office of Climate Change. A DEC employee for 25 years, Mark began his DEC career as a wildlife biologist on Long Island, specializing in deer management. He joined the department’s Division of Public Affairs and Education in 1998 and moved to Albany in 2003 to become chief of the DEC’s Bureau of Public Outreach in 2003. His work managing the stakeholder process during the development of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative ignited his concern about climate change, and he joined the Office of Climate Change when it was established in 2007.

Since joining the Office of Climate Change, his principal areas of responsibility have included leading public outreach efforts for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, State Sea Level Rise Task Force and State Climate Action Plan. He serves as the Office of Climate Change’s lead on climate adaptation and represents the office on the state’s interagency work group on adaptation and several other federal, state and local climate-change adaptation groups. Mark also manages the state Climate Smart Communities program.

Mark developed DEC’s first greenhouse gas inventory and has served on national workgroups to develop the Local Government Operations Protocol and the World Resources Institute Public Sector Protocol for greenhouse gas inventories.

Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Franklin and Marshall College and a master’s degree in Environmental and Forest Biology from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

As Mark will be talking about some updates to the ClimAid report, the most comprehensive Climate report for New York State, consider reading this expert report on the changes coming to our region with Climate Change.

Read this important study that connects Rochester transportation and Climate Change--just released in March 2014

'The Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council has released Planning for Transportation and Climate Change: Model Ordinances, Incentives, and Other Resources, a compendium of model regulatory tools for local governments in the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region to increase the energy efficiency of the transportation infrastructure for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Although written specifically for the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region, much of the information is applicable throughout New York State. Funding for the project was provided by the Genesee Transportation Council.' From    Office of Climate Change New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 625 Broadway, 9th Floor Albany, New York 12233 Phone: (518) 402-8448 Email:climatechange@gw.dec.state.ny.us